Small World Initiative

The Small World Initiative is an innovative undergraduate research collaborative that presents a unique combination of science education, scientific research, and science diplomacy. Using authentic scientific research as a driver, this initiative focuses on addressing a worldwide health threat, the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Students will contribute to discovering new antibiotics from soil bacteria in their local environment. The research course will provide the venue for the investigation of biological and chemical soil diversity. It will also be a platform from which to teach a number of different biological concepts in the context of four distinct introductory courses. The goal of this project is to increase retention in college, inspire students to pursue science, and train future scientists.


Goals of the Small World Initiative:
  • Inspire students about the potential impact of scientific research to solve global problems
  • Engage students in authentic research experiences
  • Link them to a national network of students working toward the same goals
  • Longitudinal study to follow all enrolled students for 5 years to determine if they continue in a STEM field
Why class-based research?
"Engage to Excel" Recommendations:
  • Use evidence-based teaching practices
  • Replace lab courses with research courses
  • Launch a national experiment in math education
  • Diversity pathways to STEM careers using stakeholder partnerships
  • Create a Presidential council on STEM education
How it works:
  • Students collect soil
  • Culture bacteria from soil
  • Test bacteria for antibiotic activity
  • Identify bacteria
  • Upload data to website utilized by all participants
  • Identify chemical structure of antibiotic

Small World Initiative


Pilot Partners of Small World InitiativeDr. Monica Tischler applied for and was accepted to be a pilot partner in this initiative in August 2013.  Dr. Tischler was part of the team that developed the curriculum that was funded by the Small World Initiative Participant MapHelmsley Foundation, HHMI and the Davis Educational Foundation.  She is excited to bring this experience to our undergraduates and to connect them to other microbiology students across the country.

     College of Science

COS Facebook         COS Flickr         COS Twitter         Get LinkedIn to COS!

William R. Law, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Science

Tonia Rucker, Assistant to the Dean
Phone: (630) 829-6187
Fax: (630) 829-6186

Dean's Office Hours:
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Dean's Office Location:
Birck Hall Room 119